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Pimâtisiwin (Life): Indigenous Filmmakers

November 15, 2018
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
LIB 402, Ryerson University Library 4th Floor, 350 Victoria St.
Alannah Fricker,

This event focuses on the short documentary work of Gail Maurice, Theola Ross, and Paola Marino. The filmmakers explore culture, resilience, and the effects of colonialism in First Nations communities. The event includes an introductory talk by Ryerson Elder Joanne Dallaire, documentary screenings, and a Q&A led by Nataleah Hunter-Young. Lunch is catered by NishDish.


Joanne Dallaire, Elder, Ryerson University, is proudly Cree, her ancestry is Omushkego from Attawapiskat and Mattice Ontario and Hull Quebec, calling Toronto home. Joanne received an Honorary Doctor of Laws in the Community Service Faculty at Ryerson University in recognition of her life’s work, the Minaake Award for Leadership, Herbert H Carnegie Amazing Aces Award for Courage, the City of Toronto Access, Equity and Human Rights Awards – Aboriginal Affairs Award. She sat as the Elder for Ryerson University, Ryerson’s Aboriginal Education Council, and the Truth and Reconciliation directive, and as a Traditional counsellor at Ryerson’s Aboriginal Student Services for 10 years. 

Gail Maurice is an actor and independent award-winning filmmaker. She grew up in a Métis village in Northern Saskatchewan and speaks her language Cree/Michif fluently. Her films have screened in festivals worldwide. She wrote, directed and produced her first video, "Little Indians," in 2004 and has not stopped. She attended the prestigious Women in the Director’s Chair in Banff, spoke at Privy Council, performed at the Sydney Opera House and has been on numerous panels on Indigenous filmmaking. Gail founded Assini Productions to produce Indigenous films. Her latest film, "Assini," is still in the festival circuit. Gail is a former board member of ImagineNative. 

Theola Ross is from Pimichikamak Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba and speaks Cree. "Twilight Dancers" is her directorial debut. The film, a CBC short doc, has been shown widely both nationally and internationally. She is a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Social Work Program at Ryerson University. Toronto is her second home. She has experience working with individuals struggling with social cultural context within social discourse. Her experience includes both being raised on-reserve and living in an urban setting. Her command of Cree, her mother tongue, is very important to her.

Paola Marino is from Bologna Italy. She studied Film and Semiotics at the University of Bologna. She is co-director of "Twilight Dancers." She lives in Toronto and is a video producer and director. Her award-winning artworks Cherubino, Carmen, Irene, and Dalila have been officially selected in multiple international film festivals. She has also worked with Aboriginal artist Eddy Robinson directing and co-producing "Kinoomaage- Asin/Teaching Rock" which premiered at Toronto ImagineNative Film Festival.

Nataleah Hunter-Young is a writer, film programmer, media artist, and PhD student from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She has programmed films for the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival (Canada), the Durban International Film Festival (South Africa), and also worked as a feature documentary pre-screener with the Toronto International Film Festival. Building on more than 10 years’ experience as a local and international youth worker, Nataleah has always merged her passion for community development with her love for film and media arts. Nataleah’s doctoral research interests include visual culture, Black visualities, civic engagement, and documentary media.


Memory in Bones, 2005, 3:30 minutes

Every step I take is with my ancestors; my memory in my bones - urban and rural live within me - I am who I am, a strong Indian woman. A look at our roots, our culture and how it makes us or influences us in day to day life.

  • Official selection Native American Film and Video Festival, Smithsonian, 2006
  • Official selection Reel World Film Festival 2006
  • Official selection Inside Out Film Festival 2005

Thirst: Canada’s Dirty Little Truth, 2007, 14:50 minutes

A probing documentary into the highly problematic and deteriorating water delivery systems servicing northern Ontario First Nations communities. Uncovering neglect, inefficient government response, and blatant disregard for a fundamental human right to clean water.

  • Official selection ImagineNative Film and Media Arts Festival 2007
  • Official selection Planet in Focus Film Festival 2007
  • Broadcast on APTN

Twilight Dancers, 2017, 16:31 minutes

It’s the 58th Winter Festival in Pimicikamak Cree Nation, a small Indigenous community on the 55th parallel in Canada’s boreal forest. The Twilight Dancers are competing in the square dancing category — but they’re not just dancing to win. They’re dancing to cope with the trauma of a suicide epidemic in their community. In 2016, 140 youth attempted suicide and 6 young people took their own lives. Dancing helps the community heal. At the Winter Festival, everybody comes together to dance.

  • Official selection Catalina Film Festival 2017
  • Official selection ImagineNative
  • Official selection Cinequest Film Festival 2018
  • Official Selection Athens International Film & Video Festival 2018